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zsomeone wrote in asexuality
This is a really great post, I just wanted to share it
Lots of other good posts on that site too if you want to read around.

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Trying to get a professed asexual to be sexual seems to me akin to trying to "cure" homosexuality. It shouldn't be done.

Having sex doesn't make one any less asexual. Not all asexual people are repulsed by it and some do have sex with their partners. Sexual attraction =/= sexual behavior. Some sexual people are celibate, some asexual people have sex.

The person who wrote the article isn't trying to "cure" anyone, just giving advice for having sex with an asexual partner. Includes stuff about consent, points out that having sex isn't going to make the person any less asexual, etc.

I've been an asexual for 40 years, and I've always understood the term to mean "not sexual" or "no sex." When did asexual start meaning someone who has sex?

(Deleted comment)
>>I have no desire to do the dishes but I do it.

Perfectly describes how I feel about sexual relations with my ex. And on that note, I wish I could read this to him...

This is because there's more than one flavor of asexuality. Some don't want sex, ever. Others are willing to, under certain circumstances. For example, some people are asexual, but romantic-- they fall in love with people, but don't have any drive to bonk them.

As an analogy, let's say I don't like cake. I don't actually feel any aversion to cake. I'm not diabetic or gluten-intolerant. It won't make me sick. I just don't care to have it-- I'd rather have ice cream, or brownies, or cream puffs. But when I go to a friend's wedding I'll eat some cake, because it's supposed to be good luck. I might not enjoy it, but I'll eat it to make them happy.

For some asexuals, this is how sex is. They don't hate it, they don't mind it, they just don't feel any inherent need to seek it out. And if there's someone they care about or even love, even if they're not sexually attracted, they may consent to sex because it makes their partner happy. I'm this way, myself-- I'd rather play a good video game or read a book than have sex, and don't feel driven to seek it out. But if I were romantically attracted to someone who wasn't asexual, I'd be willing to sleep with them, because I'm not inherently disgusted by it.

Of course, some asexuals aren't wired that way-- they actively don't want sex. The very thought of cake makes them lose their appetite. And this is perfectly fine, too.

Just a couple of asides...

if I were romantically attracted to someone who wasn't asexual, I'd be willing to sleep with them

I believe the term for this is "demisexual."

they may consent to sex because it makes their partner happy

I guess I just find it difficult to imagine how an asexual could have a true "partner." Close friends, yes, companions, yes, even soul mates, but not partners. Implicit in that term is sexual involvement. If I say I'm partners with someone, that's equivalent to saying I'm having sex with that person. Honestly, I've never known anyone to call someone else their "partner" if they weren't in a sexual relationship with them.

Not picking on you in particular, but that linked article used the words "partner" and "relationship" in conjunction with asexuality several dozen times, and that sent my bullsh*t meter right off the charts.

I personally don't see why the term "partner" should be considered synonymous with sex. Just because society as a whole has the idea that if people are in a relationship that means that they must be having sex, as if that's the default, doesn't make it true. Society has that idea because asexuality is still very unknown, and a lot of people still can't fathom the idea of two people being together, in a partnership, and happily not having sex. To me, the term "partner" or "relationship" simply implies that two people are romantically involved, what goes on in the bedroom (or doesn't go on, as the case may be) doesn't enter into it.

the term "partner" or "relationship" simply implies that two people are romantically involved

*chuckle* I'll buy that, though I do still think the terms imply that physicalities are taking place between the partners.

I've fallen in love with a friend before, so I do know what romantic feelings feel like. He loved me back, too, so I could definitely say we were romantically involved, but since we never had sex, I for instance would never presume to introduce my friend to someone else as "my partner," or tell people we were "in a relationship." It would give them the wrong idea about us.

The British have a term I really like: "romantic friendship." It's when two people fall in love (usually referring to two men), but it's not carnal love. When I tell people about me and my old friend, that's the term I use to describe the way we felt about each other. I like it because it perfectly conveys that we were in love, but that friendship was the root of it, not sex.

Edited at 2012-12-20 07:16 am (UTC)

A lot of asexuals and aromantics find it insulting and invalidating to have to talk of themselves and their partners as "friends". Mostly because Western society values friendships less than romantic relationships. (You're expected to spend less time with your friends when you get into a "serious relationship". People say things like "No, we're just friends.") Hence the coining of the term "zucchini" in the aromantic community for someone they're not in romantic love with or sexually interested in, but still wish to spend their life with. (It's almost impossible to explain the difference to a mere friendship to a romantic person. Google the term.) It's not a new idea, though. Even the Greeks had a set of terms for types of love to base a relationship on that weren't romantic in the Hollywood sense. (Of course, the ancient Greeks also didn't expect to be in romantic or sexual love with their husband/wife. Romance was considered too fickle and fleeting to base a life partnership on.) In modern psychology, love is the combination of caring, attachment and initmacy (of thoughts and emotions, not necessarily physical), which is quite different from liking a friend.

I personally don't have this problem so much - "friend" and "girlfriend/boyfriend" are literally the same word in my native language; "life companion" is the long-accepted term for "yes, we live together, no, we're not going to marry" even for hetero couples; and people aren't usually required to specify their sexual identity and the exact nature of their relationship during small talk. But I can understand why Americans would want the validation of their platonically loving relationships that comes with calling each other something more intimate and closely attached than "friend".

Besides, if you're going to live together and pool your resources and share responsibilities, you've got just as much right to the term "partner" as business partners do. Sex or romance don't figure into it, IMHO. My parents never were in love, and only married for political reasons several years after my birth, but they were certainly partners in life. (If you're wondering: I'm the result of my mother's wish to have a child before she turned 40 and my father's wish not to grow old alone after a nasty divorce. I don't remember ever seeing them so much as kiss. A pragmatic relationship if there ever was one. But a valid relationship nonetheless.)

"Romantic friendship" is nice, but it sounds antiquated. Kind of belittling, too. Like you're only training at romance in the safe environment of a friendship. I'm pretty sure I've heard of it only in the context of Victorian era BFF-type relationships between teenage girls.

Edited at 2012-12-21 03:57 am (UTC)

It's the completely spurious and recent change in meaning of the work 'partner' that leaves me and my long-term house-sharer, friend and fellow asexual struggling to find any term to refer to each other. Most people assume that we're practising lesbians - since most people don't know the term asexual.

There is a very old term which used to be used for 'people who live together but have neither family nor sexual relations' - cater-cousin. It needs reinstating.

(Deleted comment)
One doesn't have to be sexually attracted to a person to agree to have sex with them...

As someone with a penis, I would need to be sexually attracted in order to function. It's not something that you can just turn on and off like a light switch.

Of course, I'm talking about intercourse there, not just pleasuring someone in a sexual way (which I don't think of as sex). I can - and have - done that, but it was absent any arousal or pleasure on my part, and it left me feeling empty, and even worse, phony. So I don't play pretend-sex anymore. It's being dishonest with myself... and with the other person.

As someone with a penis, I would need to be sexually attracted in order to function. It's not something that you can just turn on and off like a light switch.

Congratulations. You've just told every male rape survivor who reads this forum (and, statistically, there have to be a few) that if he had an erection during his ordeal, be it due to physical stimulation, high adrenaline, force-fed drugs, or a simple abuse of his sleep hormone cycle, he must have secretly wanted to be assaulted by the rapist.

Plenty of people all throughout history have had sex with people whom they weren't sexually attracted to. Often even relatively voluntarily (if you ignore social pressures and decisions made by parents for their sons and daughters). Marriages were arranged for economic and political reasons, the bride and groom might not be able to stand each other on a personal level, and still children had to be produced. Yes, that issue could hit even the men - why do you think kings had so many mistresses? And plenty of closeted, married gay men managed to father the expected children. (As mentioned above, you've just invalidated their sexual identity with your generalisation. I'm sure they would be thrilled if they would read this forum.)
Male prostitutes also exist, who like all prostitutes don't have the luxury to chose their clients based on personal attraction. And during a porn production, there are so many people around (non-porn actors will tell you that accidental arousal in simulated sex scenes is never a problem, because the situation is stressful and really, really unsexy) and the male performers are expected to be "up and running" for so long and at such short notice, that there is very little attraction or desire and far more manual stimulation and viagra involved. Plus, ever heard of the term "gay for pay"?

Besides, a lot of asexuals still masturbate for simple physical release, and don't need anything to focus their nonexistent attraction on to do that. Are you saying they must be sexually attracted to themselves (that's autosexual, not asexual) or fetishising their toys?

If performing without sexual attraction is physically impossible for you and this doesn't bother you, good for you. But please don't go around generalising from your own experience to everyone else in such a potentially damaging manner.

Thank you for posting such a measured response to a loathsome comment.

ty for sharing the post! It's really well-written.

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